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Risk Factors of Type 1 Diabetes in Children


There aren't many known risk factors for type 1 diabetes, though researchers continue to find new possibilities.


Known risk factors

These include:


  • A family history. Anyone with a parent or siblings with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition.
  • Genes. The presence of certain genes indicates an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. In some cases — usually through a clinical trial — genetic testing can be done to determine if a child who has a family history of type 1 diabetes is at increased risk of developing the condition.


Possible risk factors

Possible risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:


  • Viral exposure. Exposure to Epstein-Barr virus, coxsackievirus, mumps or cytomegalovirus may trigger the autoimmune destruction of the islet cells, or the virus may directly infect the islet cells.
  • Low vitamin D levels. Research suggests that vitamin D may protect against type 1 diabetes. However, early intake of cow's milk — a common source of vitamin D — has been linked to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
  • Other dietary factors. Drinking water that contains nitrates may increase the risk of type 1 diabetes. The timing of the introduction of cereal into a baby's diet also may affect a child's risk of type 1 diabetes. One clinical trial found that between ages 4 and 7 months appears to be the optimal time for introducing cereal. Another study found that the type of baby formula babies consume also may affect diabetes risk. This research suggests that when special easier-to-digest formulas (hydrosolate) are given to babies when they're between ages 6 and 8 months instead of standard cow's milk formula, the risk of type 1 diabetes might be reduced. However, the study didn't link standard cow's milk formulas to the development of type 1 diabetes.

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